Once we realize the importance of focussing on non-urgent but important tasks we are ready to set our diaries to work. When entering into your diary it is best to tackle the whole week and this can easily be done over a half an hour period. I review my coming week every Sunday as I find it puts me in a focussed state of mind for the week ahead.

 

I have to agree with Stephen R Covey that when planning your week it is best to consider when you are most awake. Are you a morning person or do you feel more productive in the afternoon? Leaving the most demanding activities for when you are most alert will result in superior work. Now you have your diary and you are ready to plan your week, Stephen R Covey recommends entering in time for all of your non-urgent but important tasks first, such as working on your goals.  After that schedule in your urgent and important tasks like working on goals or projects that are approaching a deadline for example. Leave slack or ‘free time’ for urgent but not important tasks such as phone calls and some mail which may crop up throughout the day as this will help make your schedule realistic. Last but not least, take time to schedule in fun and relaxation. If we fail to make time for fun and relaxation we can leave ourselves vulnerable to stress and even burn out. In my upcoming feature this December I will look further at stress and together we will explore how to not only manage our stress levels, but significantly reduce them too. So, in order to avoid our stress levels rising, it is vital to schedule in fun and relaxation, as no matter how focussed we are, we all need time to unwind and play. It is no exaggeration to say that this approach to time management has completely transformed my productivity.

 

It is also wise to treat each daily entry as a deadline to avoid procrastination and take care to spread your activities throughout the week. For example, I go church on Sundays which is the same day I initially scheduled to read the bible. When thinking about this further I decided to do this on Wednesdays as I felt this better kept my spirituality fresh throughout the week. Similarly spread your activities throughout the week to keep momentum and motivation high. Initially planning out your week in this way may seem labour intensive however in a very short period of time you will be filling out your diary for the week in twenty minutes or less.

 

Once your new system is in place you shall begin to focus on what is really important to you week by week. Within months you will see your goals clearly progress. This progression will not only motivate you further but provide your life with a deeper sense of purpose and meaning.

 

In truth, time needs to be invested for any new friendship to develop, however, with effective time management as your new best friend you can be guaranteed that the friendship will give back far more than your initial investment. Rather than running against the clock you will be able to work with it in achieving what matters to you most. Now that is a best friend I wouldn’t mind having!

 

How do you feel now all of your important tasks have been scheduled in? Empowered, motivated, eager to get started? If you’ve begun working to your new schedule how is it working for you? Have you seen a noticeable increase in your productivity? Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain insight, encouragement and support.

 

Stephen R Covey’s book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is not only well written and researched but incredibly insightful and easy to read. So if, like me, you would like to explore time management further, this is the book that stands out as an authority on the matter beyond all the rest.

 

Exercises:

 

 Enter in your diary the following for an entire week in advance:

  1. Important but not urgent tasks, such as goals or reorganising projects
  2. Urgent and important tasks, such as goal or projects with a deadline
  3. Leave free time for not important but urgent tasks, such as phone calls
  4. Schedule in fun and relaxation
  5. Treat all of the above entries in your diary as deadlines to avoid procrastination and improve efficiency!
  6. Reward yourself every day you get through your to do list, even if it’s just with a game of chess, a nice bubble bath or your favourite drink.